How to Process the Emotions of an Unplanned Pregnancy
Maybe you were like me and had a vision/dream/plan for how your life would go. During my college years, I created a five and 10-year plan for my life. It included graduating, getting a job, getting married (I was dating my future husband), buying a house, and traveling. None of my dreams had an unplanned pregnancy, which can rock your world.
Some of the things I planned did occur. I graduated from college, worked as a teacher, and got married. Eventually, other items made my list, like attending graduate school. Still, getting pregnant was down the line – way down the line.
But picture this: I was in the last semester of graduate school. I had found my dream career. I was feeling unwell but attributed it to eating bad mall food or the stress of school. But something inside said, “Go get a pregnancy test,” and I did. I still remember what I felt when those two pink lines were evident on that strip: OMG, I’m pregnant, and it’s unplanned.
If you’re in a similar situation, you may be wondering how to process all you’re feeling inside.
Here are some ways to help you process the emotions of an unplanned pregnancy:
1. Acknowledge the emotional overload.
Take time to process everything that you are feeling. It doesn’t have to happen overnight.
When I saw those two pink lines, I immediately went into denial. This can’t be happening. This wasn’t in the plan right now. Then I was bombarded with emotions like being overwhelmed, scared, nervous, excited, and a little shame and guilt because I was faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Then came gratefulness because my doctor had told me it would be challenging to have a baby, and several of my friends were having trouble getting pregnant. Dealing with your emotions can take a while, no matter what they are.
2. Feel what you feel.
It’s essential to allow all that you feel to surface, even if it’s ANGER. Your natural reaction may be to push down negative thoughts or emotions. It’s better to put all your feelings on the table to deal with them. If you are angry at yourself, your partner, or even your child, it’s OK to feel what you feel. You just can’t stay there, because it’s not helpful.
3. Be prepared for your feelings to change.
You are experiencing many things right now, but that doesn’t mean you will always feel this way. If you feel angry or overwhelmed, it definitely doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out to be a parent. An unplanned pregnancy doesn’t mean your child won’t be loved or adored upon arrival. Be gentle with yourself and your spouse/partner as you both process.
4. Talk to your circle of support.
Yes, you may be on emotional overload. You have too many questions and not enough answers. Guess what? Your partner is probably dealing with the same things: shock, denial, feeling overwhelmed, or even scared. In the same way you need space and time to process, give your spouse/partner the same consideration. A healthy relationship should be the primary safe space for you to share concerns and fears about the change in your lives.
Talking to friends and family will help you recognize that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In fact, more than 45% percent of women in the U.S. have experienced an unplanned pregnancy. Sharing all that you feel in an open and safe environment allows you to process your feelings.
Emotions do not have to be destructive, and what you do with all you’re feeling can make a world of difference. So allow yourself to feel and process through what you feel. Shoving down your emotions and ignoring them aren’t beneficial to you or your situation. As you read this, you may still be in some form of shock or denial, and that’s OK. Keep moving forward and processing your emotions to get to the other side.
Remember, some of the best surprises are unplanned.
4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety
Tips for Controlling Your Emotions
Unplanned Pregnancy in Marriage
“Honey, what does this “+” sign mean on this stick?”
“It means you’re gonna be a dad.” Whoa!
I immediately have to make a choice, and it may seem easy, but it’s not. The fact is, I’m NOT excited about this unplanned pregnancy in our marriage.
This is going against the carefully thought-out plan we concocted so that our child(ren) could have the best life and be in the best position for success while also allowing me and our family to be successful at the same time.
No, I’m still not excited. On the other hand, my wife is jumping through the roof with excitement.
Hold up, did she let this happen on purpose? Do I fake it and join in with her? Am I honest with her? Am I sensitive? Should I let her have her moment or am I being real with myself and her?
Fast forward: 11 years and SIX kids later. Yep, six. (None were planned, although some were more of a surprise than others. For instance, conceiving while changing birth control methods). And guess what? My wife and I worked through it all, together and honestly.
Because of my wife’s understanding when I was honest and transparent about my concerns, not just about how life would change, but about my deep resentment that she wanted a baby right then even though I didn’t, we made it through the fears and the guilt.
There are legitimate, deeply personal reasons for not being excited about an unplanned pregnancy.
- Concerns about how it will affect the marriage.
- Not where you want to be in your career.
- Financial considerations.
- Effects of pregnancy and childbirth on a woman’s body.
- Just don’t feel ready to be a parent.
The idea that I was wrong for initially feeling rejection toward the baby is damaging. Marriage is intended to be a place where honesty, transparency and reality can take place without judgment. It’s a place where you can handle an emotion personally, without taking the emotion personally (let that sink in). My wife took it personally that I thought she was being selfish and even divisive by wanting the baby. But she quickly realized that my emotions came from a place of fear, guilt and anxiety.
What got us through?
We talked and we disagreed. We expressed the strong emotions we had, but we did it together. When outsiders said hurtful things, we told one another and we cared for each other. We acknowledged where both of us were and decided that it was ok, because it was real. But we never forgot that together, we ultimately had what we needed to take on the privileged position of parenthood.
By the way, guess who was the first person to buy a book to read to the baby in the womb? You got it: Me! Now that I think about it, our process may have made us better parents. I can definitely say that how we handled our unplanned pregnancy strengthened our marriage and deepened our emotional intimacy.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***